Taita sign classy South African
Travis Muller has had to make some big sacrifices to chase his dream of playing cricket for New Zealand.
Muller is playing for Taita and is looking to make the sort of impact that saw countrymen Neil Wagner and Grant Elliot become high profile Black Caps.
It is a long way from Capetown to Fraser Park but Muller arrived with an impressive cricketing CV that included 42 first-class games for Western Province. A right arm fast bowler, he has taken 119 wickets with an action he compares to that of Vernon Philander.
Taita had a spot for an opening batsman and Muller volunteered to give it a go.
Although Elliot and Wagner are success stories, there have been a lot of South Africans who have tried and failed.
Last season Obus Pienaar arrived with a classy record with the bat, including playing professionally in the United Kingdom and representing South Africa at age group level.
Although he did well in club cricket he was unable to attract the interest of the Firebirds and returned home.
Muller knows he has a huge challenge in front of him and that at 24 he is taking a gamble that might not pay off.
‘‘It is difficult but I have the support of my parents. They are both fully behind me. Even my girlfriend was not that fazed.’’
His girlfriend is coming out shortly to visit and Muller hopes to have good news for her.
When he arrived, he was involved in warm-up games for the Firebirds. It was a special thrill to play on the Basin Reserve and he hopes to get an opportunity to play for Wellington A.
It will take him four years to meet the eligibility rules for international cricket. That’s a long time for a fast bowler and a lot can happen in that time.
His approach is to take it year by year and see what he can achieve.
His visa requires him to return to South Africa after eight months and that will give him an opportunity to assess whether he wants to keep going.
Coming to New Zealand has already had one benefit for Muller. Taita were short of opening batsmen so Muller decided to put his hand up.
His first two scores were 46 and 49 not out. If he can enjoy similar success with the ball, he might achieve his dream of playing for the Black Caps.
If he does, he knows exactly who he wants to copy.
‘‘[South African fast bowler] Dale Steyn, I have met him quite a few times off the field and he is just awesome.’’
As well as being a fearsome fast bowler, Steyn is known for his aggressive on-field behaviour.
Muller said Steyn was very different off the field and he admired the way he played but and then was a completely different person off the paddock.
Taita are using him to coach in local schools and assisting the Hutt International Boys School first eleven.
South African import Travis Muller is helping coach children as he chases his dream of playing for the Black Caps.